Admiral and former congressman applauds marriage ruling

| 09 Jul 2015 | 05:38

To the Editor:
Today's ruling affirms what I learned in my 31 years in the U.S. Navy, where I went to war alongside men and women who were gay. I could never fathom a justification for any of these warriors going home to the one he or she loves and not having the same equal right to marry that person.

I will always remember the day I was least proud of the Navy I love so dearly — a day in 1993 when an official Navy spokesman, commenting on what would become Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT), told the New York Times that "homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous" and if allowed to declare their sexual orientation openly, heterosexuals showering with gay men would have an "uncomfortable feeling of someone watching."

I was ashamed. When DADT was passed, a two-star Admiral asked me, "What do you think about this policy?" I said, "It's unconstitutional and I have no doubt that the Supreme Court will throw it out in a couple months." Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

So when I got to Congress, I was proud to co-sponsor legislation to end DADT and prohibit the military from discriminating based on sexual orientation. In my view, we need the best of our communities in the military, regardless of sexual orientation, so that each of us together can truly "be all you can be."

The same can be said of our entire society, and it's why today's ruling is such an important step. I am running for the United States Senate to continue taking the further steps on the path to true equality – in veterans" benefits, public accommodations, adoption refusal laws and so many other fundamental areas.

If we"re serious about restoring the American Dream, we need "all hands on deck." We must ensure that all Americans — regardless of sexual-orientation and gender-identity — are guaranteed the opportunity to achieve a better future for themselves and their families, and contribute fully to our shared common enterprise."

Admiral Joe Sestak
Former Congressman for Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District (2007-2011)